‘New Normal’ For The Rail Industry?

July 24, 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for all, and much of Q2 was spent by organisations on their Coronavirus response. As we have seen infection levels drop in the UK, the Government have lifted many of the lockdown restrictions in order to head towards a “new normal”. One of the challenges for the Rail sector is passenger confidence, and encouraging people to return to regular train journeys. For Train Operating Companies this is vitally important in order to help manage the all-important cashflow.

We have also seen organisations commit to their staff a “new normal” working conditions in relation to working from home/office working, and clearly one of the results of the pandemic is the illustration to all is that existing video technology can enable businesses to operate in more innovative and effective ways. This will have a lasting impact on how we all “do business”, and another significant piece of the “new normal” we are reaching.

With these long-term changes in working practices come opportunity for innovation. A good example of this is that for a new entrant into the rail sector in particular, it may have been difficult for them to start a new role working from home with only a mobile phone to keep them company, whereas a blend of office and working from home allows for relationships with their team to be established and a friendly, supportive face is never far away via a video call. The fact that contents of your screens can be shared enables distance learning, and for new entrants to be able to learn this way means organisations can still consider bringing new people into the industry for design roles. For trackside roles, with the correct precautions it still should be possible for new entrants to get a start in the industry and be mentored and supported by an organisation.

Finally, another “new normal” is for rail organisations to consider innovative recruitment solutions to solve the forthcoming challenges that CP6, HS2 et al will bring. Boston Rail believe in developing new and existing talent, and by creating roadmaps for personnel development this can add significant value for Tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers, as well as enabling candidates to gain crucial experience, they will have all their training paid for by Boston Rail on our programmes and employed directly by us on a PAYE basis. If you are looking at how to either bring new to the industry talent, or are looking at a programme for developing existing talent, then please discuss with Tom Anderton – Head of Rail at tomanderton@bostonrail.co.uk – we see our role in the industry as providing pathways for those with transferable skills enter the sector as well as those with existing industry experience develop further. This “new normal” requires both strategic and tactical methodologies, so delivering talent in a new-way for the long-term and short-term is all-important as the demand for manpower increases. Also the consideration of those with transferable skills from industries such as aviation, automotive and wind energy could also be part of the solution in meeting future resource needs.  

Whilst a vaccine doesn’t appear to be too far away now and will certainly help us return to “normal”, it is clear that the World will not return to the way things were pre-COVID-19. With the combination of technology, COVID-secure workplaces and an increase in customer confidence (with restrictions being lifted) the Rail industry is reaching a new normal, and with major projects on the horizon it is clear that innovation is needed in order to deliver for the near-future and indeed in the years ahead. Not only to restore passenger confidence, but meeting commitments to the zero-carbon agenda and resource requirements in a what will be a booming sector in the years ahead.

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